But let's start with the basic specification of this phone
OS: Android 9.0 a.k.a. Android Pie (certified under Android One program)
Chipset: Snapdragon 845
GPU: Adreno 630
Storage: 128 GB
Rear cameras: 5 cameras with each camera being 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm. Of the 5 cameras, 2 are RGB camera, 3 are B/W cameras, and one TOF (Time of flight sensor.) More on cameras below.
Front camera: 20 MP.
Video recording: Rear camera is capable of recording at 2160p@30fps (4K), 1080p@30fps (Full HD). You can also record videos in 4K UHD.
Screen Size: 5.99 inches
Screen resolution: 1440 x 2880 pixels with 538 PPI.
Screen type: POLED (Plastic AMOLED, more on that later)
Screen protection: Gorilla glass 5.
Authentication technologies: in-display fingerprint reader, Face Unlock
Charging: Quick Charge 3.0 (Fast battery charging 18W), Qi (Fast Wireless charging 10W)
Battery: 3320mAh. For me, it lasts more than a day. I don't watch many videos on this phone and my calls on the phone is limited to 15-20 minutes a day.
IP67 water resistance rating (can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes)
MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS PHONE
BAD THINGS ABOUT THIS PHONE
1. For a phone that is marketed as a photographer's phone, the phone's camera app needs considerable work. Launching the app, changing the app mode (e.g. between slow motion, video, bokeh mode) is terribly slow. The camera app glitches out often by giving error "Unable to connect of the camera". I missed a couple of opportunities to take a picture because the camera app took too long to open. I am hoping the camera app would get updated to fix these issues. Patience is going to be the key while dealing with the camera app on this phone.
2. The fingerprint sensor is very glitchy. It doesn't work more than half of the time and keeps prompting to press the glass harder. This is an inherent problem with these optical-based fingerprint sensors, instead of newer phones that come with ultrasonic based fingerprint sensors that are more accurate. The in-screen sensor is also slower than the capacitive based optical sensors found on other phones e.g. iPhones, and Pixel phones. However, the face unlock feature of this phone really great and I rarely have to use the fingerprint unlock most of the times, but when the fingerprint authentication is used for authentication in apps, it can be really annoying that you might have to try 5-10 times for the app to recognize the fingerprint. HMD has said that there will be a software update to address this but I doubt that even that will make much difference. I would highly recommend enabling the face-unlock feature as it works quite beautifully.
3. The automatic brightness adjustment seems to be little sluggish. On my Lumia 950XL, I could see the brightness change between different lighting conditions, but the automatic brightness control on this phone doesn't seem to be that sensitive. The display is beautiful and I can read clearly in sunlight. But sometimes when I am in direct sunlight the phone doesn't adjust the brightness or it takes noticeably longer to adjust the screen brightness.
4. You can take the pictures quickly with this camera but it processes all the information of the picture in the background and that can take a significant amount of time (between 5-10 seconds.) You can continue to take pictures while processing of pictures is going on, but if you want to go back and take a look at the picture immediately, then you would have to wait.
5. The build of this phone is good but is in no way a head turner. The top and bottom bezels clearly scream of a mid-range smartphone. But then given the price of this phone, a bezel-less design for the screen might be too much to ask for.
1. The Android updates are fast. This phone got the March update in March, and the only other phones that have this update is Pixel and Essential phones.
2. The face-unlock feature works well. Most of the time it would unlock the phone before I could even reach for the fingerprint authentication. Though it doesn't seem to work in dark or low light conditions, which would need an IR scanner.
3. I love all the tweaking and picture controls on the phone. If you are shooting in bokeh mode then one more option "Color pop" shows up for the photo which mutes the color around the subject you want to focus on bringing out the colors of the subject.
4. Even though this phone does not have a dedicated camera button, you can still press the power/lock button two times to launch the camera app (this works even if the phone is locked.) Once in the camera app, you can press the volume button (either volume up or down) to take a picture.
THINGS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF BEFORE BUYING THIS PHONE
1. This phone produces what is being called as "Natural looking pictures". You would want to tweak the pictures with the editing tools provided in this phone to get better-looking pictures. I love playing around with the color contrast, light, depth settings, but if you are taking dozens of pictures of a trip then it might not be possible to tweak each picture manually.
2. This phone has 5 cameras which do provide a different and better picture. However, for video only one camera (RB one) is used. This is mainly because handling video information from 5 different cameras would have been overwhelming for the phone's hardware.
3. There is no headphone jack. This is the biggest thing I miss in this phone. Although there is a USB C to headphone jack adapter provided, I still feel that it wouldn't compensate for a missing headphone jack.
4. Last year's chipset i.e. Snapdragon 845. This may not be a huge deal (more on this topic below)
5. No external sd card expansion slot. A common missing feature these days.
6. No OIS (but it has EIS, what's the difference? more on this topic below)
7. No video recording at 60 fps.
8. Non-removable battery (again a standard missing feature with the most phone these days)
9. No color options, just midnight blue ... but if you are using a case on it then it won't be an issue.
10. No IR blaster
11. No Radio
WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH 5 CAMERAS
This phone utilizes its 5 cameras differently. Most of the phones have multiple cameras of different focal lengths. For instance, Samsung Galaxy S10 has 3 cameras: regular camera, ultrawide angle camera, and telephoto (zoom) camera. If the user tries to zoom in while taking a picture the telephoto lens will kick in, zooming out utilizes the ultrawide camera. So only one camera is being utilized depending upon how much the user wants to zoom into the scene. This is a way for the phone to provide zoom functionality with the lens/camera a.k.a. optical zoom instead of simulating it in software a.k.a. digital zoom.
Nokia PureView's 5 camera system works in a very different way. All 5 cameras take a picture at the same time but they collect different type of information about the scene. When a picture is taken the 2 RGB cameras and 3 monochrome cameras take a picture at the same time and collect more information about the scene. RGB cameras usually capture color information about the scene by selectively blocking out light (e.g. the Red pixel on the sensor of RGB camera would block out everything but Red light to determine how much red light is being generated at a particular spot in the scene.) Monochrome (or Black and White) cameras do not block light selectively and thus capture the intensity of light. So they can capture more detail. Nokia Pureview's camera then combines all the information from 5 cameras into one picture and produces a single picture. This process is called image stacking as we are piling up the information of all images on top of each other.
Image stacking is not new in smartphone cameras. The Pixel phones use image stacking in one of their features called Night Sight which provides better pictures in low light. Pixel's camera takes 15 photos with different exposure level and stacks them together. But since Pixel has a single camera it has to take the photos one after the other and then compensate for movement of the object or the camera in software. However, since PureView's has multiple cameras so it takes a picture at the same time and image stacking should be relatively better in these.
Also, because of the monochrome cameras, you can take Black and White photos natively in camera instead of taking colored pictures and then converting them to black and white. The only advantage of using a monochrome camera is that it is able to capture much more detail than converting a colored picture to black and white.
Also, you can shoot in depth mode or bokeh mode (as mentioned in the camera app of this phone) to produce a bokeh effect. Bokeh effect is basically having one object sharp and in focus while the background is blurred. This is quite handy for taking portrait pictures of an object, person, or food which is usually in focus while the background is blurred. You can take a picture in depth mode which will make Pureview's camera can depth information of the scene. This phone has ToF (Time of flight) sensor which can determine the depth of the objects in the scene and can take collect depth information for 1200 layers. More depth means a more gradual and more realistic blurring of the background. Pixel phone, for example, contains only two layers of information which are the subject and the background. The background is blurred equally in Pixel's phone while with PureView's camera you can have a gradual blur effect since it captures so much information about the scene. After the picture is taken, you can then move the focus point to wherever you like and background will be blurred to your liking. If you shoot a picture in bokeh mode then you can apply "Color pop" filter to the picture as well which mutes the color of objects surrounding the focused object.
You can also install Adobe Lightroom during the setup process and HMD has worked with Adobe to provide a custom profile for the Pureview's lens.
WHAT IS THE TALK OF THIS PHONE BEING LAST GEN
The latest trend of mobile phones in 2018 and 2019 is the bezel-less design with edge to edge screens. PureView 9 has bezels on the top and bottom of the screen. These are not too distracting and I personally am comfortable with this. The problem with an edge to edge screens is that the screen needs to accommodate the front-facing cameras and the slot of the earpiece, so manufacturers have to resort to solutions like notches and punch hole designs in the screen.
This phone also has Snapdragon 845 chipset which is considered to be a 2018 year model while all the latest phones coming up with Snapdragon 855. The Snapdragon chipset has a limitation of only being able to use only 2 cameras at the same time, so HMD was working with Light company to interface their processor called Lux-Capacitor with Snapdragon chipset. This took effort and time on their part and this phone was delayed. The result is this phone is released in early 2019 with an older chipset.
The main differences between Snapdragon 845 and 855 are:
1. Snapdragon 855 offers better performance (graphics performance, app launch etc)
2. Snapdragon 855 has better support for AI assistants (e.g. Alexa, Cortana, Google voice assistants)
3. Snapdragon 855 supports 5G (sort-of)
For me, these differences were not significant enough to make a difference, but if you use a lot of graphics intensive applications or games then you might get better performance from a phone that has Snapdragon 855 chipset e.g. Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 5G.
Other than the chipset being old the in display fingerprint reader is optical instead of ultrasonic as the one used in Samsung Galaxy S10. Optical fingerprint readers are slower and less accurate. This is another issue with this phone that the finger scanner is borderline useless sometimes.
Also, this phone uses Gorilla glass 5 instead of Gorilla glass 6 which is used in Samsung Galaxy S10.
But all in all, I felt the price difference between this phone and the other "better" flagship phones justified the configuration of this phone.
WHAT IS ANDROID ONE
Android One is a program by Google under which phones manufacturers install a non-modified version of Andoird operating system on the phone. Several of the manufacturers install their own UI over Android e.g. Samsung phones install OneUI on their phones, while Huaweiâ€™s phone has EMUI OS. In addition to that some manufacturer's install their own apps e.g. Samsung phones come pre-installed with apps such as Bixby, Galaxy Store, Samsung+ some of which may not even be removed. Some of these modifications bring refreshing changes e.g. Samsun's OneUI provides a system-wide dark theme, ability to change system fonts which Android lacks natively. But some people find these apps to be annoying and slowing down their system, and these customizations are often referred to as bloatware. Another effect of these manufacturer's customizations is that when a new version of OS is released, manufacturers have to test their apps and their UI before releasing the update to their phones. This usually updates to these phones get delayed from weeks to months. Under the Android One program, manufacturer's agree that there would be no customizations on their part. This means that the phones certified under Android One program get faster updates. Also, phones under Android One programs are guaranteed to receive OS update for 2 years and security updates for 3 years. Android One phone also manages background apps so that battery drain is kept to a minimum.
Android Pie is the version of the Android operating system that is installed on this phone under the Android One program.
DOES IT MATTER IF THIS PHONE DOESN'T HAVE OIS
This phone doesn't have the OIS (optical image stabilization) which is present in most of the flagships phones these days. Instead, this phone contains Electronic Image stabilization (EIS) which is present in medium price range phones. Both of these OIS and EIS provide image stabilization i.e. they correct the sudden movement/shake of the camera hands while taking a picture or video to avoid the blurry or smudge effect. OIS does this by having extra hardware (floating lens element) in front of the camera lens to compensate for the movement of the phone while taking a picture or making a video. You might even see a bump in the camera for the phones that use OIS (but not always the case.) EIS, on the other hand, does the image stabilization entirely in software by applying algorithms to the video by looking at multiple frames of the video or using sensors and gyroscopes in the phone to determine the shake of the camera and adjusting the picture/video accordingly. Since EIS is done entirely in software and uses sensors/hardware that is usually present in the phone so phones with EIS tend to be cheaper to keep the price down.
OIS seems to have an upper hand in taking pictures in low light conditions where they allow the lens to be open longer for collecting light. But for photography in general light conditions, EIS and OIS should be on par with each other.
I made videos with my Lumia 950 XL (which has OIS) and Pureview 9, and I found the stabilization to be par with each other.
WHAT IS pAMOLED
pAMOLED, that stands for Plastic Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode, is another type of screen being used today in phones (other being LCD.) OLED is the component of the screen that generates the light and colors in the screen. It comprises of a sheet/sheets that are made of an organic compound (i.e. containing carbon.) OLED screen can be controlled either through a passive or active matrix control scheme. In a passive matrix configuration, power is provided to each row of pixels in the OLED sheet, while in an active matrix configuration each pixel can be powered and controlled individually using a control matrix of transistors. Passive matrix is cheap but requires higher voltage as the size of the pixel row increases i.e. the resolution of screen increases. The various components of the screen such as the transistor control matrix, anode, a cathode are on a base layer (called a substrate.) The substrate layer can be made of plastic or glass. In this case, the substrate is made of plastic. All of the phones that use OLED use Active matrix configuration since Passive matrix configuration becomes difficult to manage for higher resolution screens.
The plastic substrate allows for thinner screen panels as the plastic substrate layer is comparatively thinner and flexible than a glass substrate layer making it more suitable for curved screens such as Samsung galaxy edge phones.
OLED screens provide more contrasts and deeper blacks than LCD (since in OLED individual pixel can be turned off) and are catching up with LCD screens in popularity as their cost becomes less. Samsung, LG, BOE seem to be the biggest manufacturers of OLED screens right now.
IS THIS PHONE BY NOKIA OR HMD GLOBAL
Nokia had sold its mobile division to Microsoft. Under this deal, Nokia could not return to Mobile business until 2015. Once 2015 arrived and Nokia could enter the mobile business again, instead of creating their own mobile phones again Nokia licensed their brand name to HMD global company. HMD global also acquired the licensing rights for the PureView brand in August 2018. Even though HMD global is not the same company as Nokia many of the key people in HMD global are former employees of Nokia e.g. the CEO of HMD global Florian Seiche, COO of HMD global Pia Kantola, CFO of HMD global Anssi RÃ¶nnemaa used to work at Nokia.